CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Demolition of Regent’s Wharf plans gives us hope

08 December, 2017

Regent’s Wharf

• WE should always give credit where credit is due. And this week full credit is deserved by plan­ning committee counc­illors who challenged their officers’ decision process and gave a unanimous thumbs down to the Regent’s Wharf proposal.

Canal supporters, heritage experts and affected residents were sufficiently concerned about this controversial application that more than 50 turned up at the meeting. Many were expecting a rubber-stamping exercise (similar to the rushed decision by Hackney Council to demolish Holborn Studios). To our pleasant surprise we witnessed a car crash in slow motion when the councillors took turns to demolish the recommendation.

The developers have managed to alienate everyone. The first mistake was to play down the extent of their proposals during the early consult­ations. This cost them the trust of the public.

In any event the ensuing plans were unacceptable and no amount of spin, drugs or bribery would have persuaded us not to object. The only surviving warehouse of its kind in Islington would have been distorted, the canal would have been side­lined in favour of HGVs during construction, and numerous residents would have been robbed of daylight.

Natural daylight is not a luxury. It is linked to our wellbeing and its absence can trigger mental illness. This was made clear in a moving speech during the objections. In other words, this applic­ation had an impact on people’s health as well as on their aesthetic values.

Tuesday evening’s meeting was an educat­ional process for everyone. It gave hope to campaign­ers, it reminded council officers that the elected representatives provided an insurance against bullying by developers, and it sent a clear message to developers that politicians and the public will not tolerate being undermined.

If the developers are thinking of appealing to central government to overrule the council then they should think again. Historic England and other national bodies are on our side and this is no longer a local issue. Our current protest is just the tip of the iceberg.

IAN SHACKLOCK
Friends of Regent’s Canal

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